FACTS/FLUKES: G. Sanchez, Stroman, H. Ramirez, Paxton, B. Miller

Sanchez powers up, but is there risk? ... After being called up in August, Gary Sanchez (C, NYY) made mincemeat of MLB pitching in a two-month barrage (.299 BA, 20 HR) that was one of the headlines of the 2016 season. Sanchez's epic late-season run will net him a spot among the top backstops entering 2017 drafts, but with just 203 career MLB at-bats, is he worth it?

Year      AB   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%  HctX  h%  GB/LD/FB   PX/xPX  HR  hr/f  BPV
=======  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ==  ========  =======  ==  ====  ===
2014*    429  .245   --     8   76   --   --     --      90/ -   12   --    18
2015*    367  .255   --     7   76   --   --     --     135/ -   18   --    47
16-AAA*  284  .263   --     6   82   --   --     --     109/ -   10   --    56
16-MLB   201  .299  .304   11   72   122  32  49/16/34  218/159  20   40%  105
*MLEs

Don't prorate 2016's MLB line, but Sanchez's debut came with some intriguing skills:

  • Nobody holds a 40% hr/f long-term. That said, PX and xPX lend credence to Sanchez's power surge. He's a legit 30-HR contender right away.
  • As the 2017 Baseball Forecaster notes, Sanchez's ct% dipped to 66% over his last 102 AB. His Major League Equivalents (MLEs) show there's been more contact in the past, but we'd like to see fewer whiffs against MLB pitching.
  • The swing and miss will prevent Sanchez from hitting .300 again, but HctX and xBA suggest he squares it up enough to prop up a decent BA.

Sanchez's 2017 price tag will be steep given his stellar debut, but keep in mind we've seen just 229 plate appearances from him at the MLB level. His skills look great—the raw power seems legit and he'll likely make enough contact to elevate from "hacker" status—but track record matters in the early rounds. He's a keeper league gem, but risk-averse owners will want Sanchez to do it again before plopping down a heavy investment.


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Strong signs from Stroman ... Marcus Stroman (RHP, TOR) entered 2016 as a trendy breakout target given his strong late-season cameo coming off knee surgery in 2015. Stroman's poor first half (5.08 ERA, 1.39 WHIP in 108 IP) doused odds of a full breakout, but he posted a 3.56 ERA the rest of the way. Should we rev up the hype machine once more?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  GB/LD/FB  H%/S%  hr/f  FpK  SwK   Vel  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ===
2014  166  3.70  3.23  2.0  8.1  4.0  54/18/28  33/69    6%  58%   9%  93.5  124
2015   27  1.67  3.13  2.0  6.0  3.0  64/18/18  24/88   14%  66%   8%  92.0   96
2016  204  4.37  3.55  2.4  7.3  3.1  60/20/20  31/68   17%  61%  10%  92.4  106
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
16-2H  96  3.56  3.11  2.1  8.3  4.0  61/19/20  31/74   20%  63%  11%  92.7  134

Fire it up. Stroman enters 2017 with plenty of momentum:

  • A brutal hr/f, particularly in the 2H, hurt Stroman's surface stats despite another elite GB%. Expect more balls to stay in the yard in 2017.
  • Stroman paired those GBs with a strong Ctl—a combo that cements a strong foundation floor.
  • Lurking beneath a mediocre Dom were some notable SwK gains. Stroman doubled up the use of his slider compared to 2014, and for good reason (58% GB%, 16% SwK).
  • Stroman eclipsed the 200-IP mark after 2015's layoff, and his 2H skills (see xERA, BPV, Vel) suggest he handled the workload spike with ease.

While Stroman's 4.00+ ERA looks shaky on the surface, there's plenty of good going on underneath. A strong Ctl/GB% combo mitigates his overall risk, while SwK hints at some untapped Dom upside. If Stroman can carry his 2H skill gains into 2017, we might be looking at a sub-3.50 ERA.

 

Is Hanley back? ... Due in large part to a plethora of injuries in recent seasons, Hanley Ramirez (1B, BOS) moved to first base for 2016 in hopes he could stay healthy all year. It worked, as Ramirez avoided the DL and popped 30 HR in his highest-earning roto season since 2010. How much stock can we put into Ramirez's renaissance?

Year   AB   BA    xBA  ct%  H%  HctX  GB/LD/FB   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd/SBO  HR/SB  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ==  ====  ========  =======  ====  =======  =====  ===
2012  604  .257  .262   78  29   114  47/18/34  115/115   15%  108/18%  24/21   52
2013  304  .345  .326   83  37   159  41/22/37  186/164   21%  112/14%  20/10  129
2014  449  .283  .281   81  32   115  45/21/34  124/115   10%   93/14%  13/14   72
2015  401  .249  .277   82  26   113  50/20/30  101/ 84   19%  105/10%  19/ 6   49
2016  549  .286  .279   78  32   118  48/19/33  127/109   21%   98/ 8%  30/ 9   65      

Hanley can hit, but repeating may be a tough task:

  • His xBA remained rock-steady despite a ct% drop; no surprise to see BA recover significantly from 2015's lull.
  • While Ramirez's hr/f has surged since moving to BOS in 2015, xPX isn't convinced he can keep it up—even in today's HR-fueled atmosphere. A heavy GB% also caps his HR upside.
  • He still has the wheels to swipe a few bags, but SBO says it's no longer a staple of his game.

A key factor in Ramirez's return to prominence was health, as he reached 450+ AB for the first time since 2012. The position switch from OF to 1B likely helped, but we can't expect another full season at 33 with his checkered injury past. Bake in some likely HR pullback, and paying for a 2016 repeat quickly becomes a risky proposition.

 

Paxton on the verge? ... After losing out on a rotation gig to start 2016, injuries opened the door for James Paxton (LHP, SEA) to get a shot in June. Paxton stuck all year with a respectable 3.79 ERA over 20 MLB starts—can he build on that performance in 2017?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  GB/LD/FB  H%/S%  hr/f  FpK  SwK   Vel  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ===
2014   74  3.04  3.50  3.5  7.2  2.0  55/23/23  28/74    6%  54%   8%  94.8   67
2015   67  3.90  4.47  3.9  7.5  1.9  48/17/34  31/76   11%  53%   7%  94.2   56
2016* 172  3.95  4.07  2.1  8.3  4.1  48/22/30  34/71    8%  62%  12%  96.8  111
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
16-2H  81  3.57  3.40  1.2  8.3  6.7  47/22/31  32/69    8%  63%  12%  96.5  141

Absolutely. Paxton quietly made strides in 2016:

  • Paxton relied on an improved cutter to supplement his premium fastball velocity. He missed bats with ease (SwK), so expect 2016's Dom gains to stick.
  • The strikeout gains didn't come at the expense of Ctl, which also improved with plenty of support from FpK.
  • Paxton's strong GB% should help keep ERA in check, and his 2H BPV/xERA combo points to bigger things ahead.

While durability is an issue—Paxton owns an "F" health grade and has yet to throw 175+ IP in a season—the pieces are in place for a breakout. Concurrent growth from his Cmd sub-indicators (FpK, SwK), a GB% tilt, and noticeable 2H skill gains all make Paxton a growth stock entering 2017.

 

Is Brad Miller a 30-HR guy? ... The 30-HR club was rather welcoming in 2016, as Brad Miller (1B/SS, TAM)—who hadn't reached that total in his first three MLB seasons combined—became one of its 38 members. Will he be a mainstay?

YEAR   AB   BA    XBA  bb%  ct%  h%  HctX  GB/LD/FB   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd/SBO  HR/SB  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ==  ====  ========  =======  ====  =======  =====  ===
2013  306  .265  .269    7   83  30    99  46/22/32   92/ 79   10%  154/10%   8/ 5   68
2014  367  .221  .236    8   74  27    98  42/19/39  105/105    9%  124/ 7%  10/ 4   36
2015  438  .258  .254   10   77  31   103  48/20/31   97/ 96   11%  113/14%  11/13   41
2016  548  .243  .268    8   73  28   104  45/19/37  147/116   20%  110/ 9%  30/ 6   60

He's probably getting kicked out in 2017:

  • While PX and hr/f drove the HR spike, xPX was far from convinced. Even accounting for 2016's league-wide power surge, Miller's historical baselines hint that 20 HR is a much safer bet.
  • Miller sacrificed some ct% for the power gains, but xBA eases concerns of him being a BA risk.
  • Miller's performance vs. LHP (71% ct%, .373 SLG, 3 HR) suggests a platoon might still be in play, which would hinder any counting stat upside.
  • He ran less often in 2016, but Spd tells us there's still some latent SB upside lurking.

Miller's hr/f nearly doubled from his previous career-high, and with limited support from HctX and xPX, we simply can't expect a similar power display. Miller's "ABB" reliability grades show he can be a useful player late in drafts, and he comes with dual eligibility; just set your HR baseline closer to 20.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.